Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) being triploid in nature is propagated by vegetative means through corms. The natural propagation rate of such plant species is relatively low, therefore some breeding and biotechnological technique like introduction, clonal selection, mutagenesis, micro-propagation and molecular markers have been used earlier as an alternative method of propagation for saffron. The creation of a germplasm bank consisting of superior elite clonal selections can be considered as a great achievement and in addition, the identification of selections as sources of variation can play an important role in improvement of this crop. The use of mutagenesis could increase the natural variability for important characters and may help in overcoming sterility barrier in autotriploid saffron by colchinization. Genetic improvement through mutation is one more important research area in saffron crop improvement and efforts made by different scientists have already given a base line idea for the improvement of this crop. Molecular markers have very good potential for study of species/clone level variation within saffron species. Use of molecular markers in saffron crop improvement will help in identifying the accessions and species which will be used for commercial exploitation and making of hybrids. At present we are having very few SSR markers in saffron, therefore both genomic and genic SSR markers need to be developed so that variation at genomic and expression level can be exploited.
Key words: Saffron, hybridization, clonal selection, introduction, mutagenesis, in-vitro regeneration, molecular markers.
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